Afghan Women-run Businesses on the Verge of Collapse - UN

"VAN" (International Desk - 29.03.2023) :: The United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned that deepening restrictions by the Taliban regime have led Afghan women-run businesses on the “verge of collapse”.

UNHCR in a report has highlighted that a considerable number of women’s business centers have lost their clients and ceased operations throughout the country.

According to International Labor Organization (ILO) report, following the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021, the number of women-run businesses has declined by a quarter.

Due to the deepening restriction on women employment by the Taliban-run administration, Afghanistan’s national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the past two years declined between 30-35 percent, according to an ILO report.

Caroline Gluck, UNHCR spokesperson, and the author has met a women’s business center in western Herat provinces, said the business center once bustling with people has now turned into a silent shop with few clients to buy handicrafts.

“There were many students coming and going here, and they would come by the stores; they spread the word about the shops here and helped us to market the place. Now, my income has reduced a lot – I would say by about 50 percent,” Sahra who runs a clothing store said.

The center opened in June 2022 as a pilot project requested by the community and supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with Afghan partner, Women Activities and Social Services Association (WASSA), aimed at providing livelihood opportunities for women in the Guzara district of western Herat province.

On December 24, the Taliban ordered non-government aid organizations (NGOs) to suspend female employees from work and adhere to the strict policies of the ruling regime. The group has also restricted university education for women and girls, which prompted widespread condemnations in Afghanistan and beyond.


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